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Cross country mountain bike world championships: Evie Richards goes solo for standout victory, Nino Schurter wins thrilling finale in men’s race

Richards rides to commanding victory after catching and distancing defending champ Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, Schurter outsprints Mathias Flueckiger in thrilling final.

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A new young champion and a veteran star scored rainbow jerseys at the cross country mountain bike worlds on Saturday.

Evie Richards (Great Britain) won her first world title in the women’s race before Nino Schurter (Switzerland) scored an incredible ninth rainbow jersey in the men’s.

Richards goes long for first world title

Evie Richards (Great Britain) caught and distanced Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (France) early in the race and time trialed to a standout win in the women’s race

Anne Terpstra (Netherlands) placed second, 1:23 back, while Sina Frei (Switzerland) placed third after a tight battle for bronze in the final lap of the Val di Sole circuit.

https://twitter.com/UCI_MTB/status/1431596492989648896

Richards’ victory put a cap on a standout summer that has seen her place third at the Les Gets World Cup, seventh in the Tokyo Olympics and a close second at the short track world championships earlier this week.

She became the first British rider to win a world title Saturday

“I can’t believe it, I’m really shocked I didn’t have much confidence going into the race but the race plan was to have confidence. I said I’d shine one day… obviously today was my time to shine,” an emotional Richards said.

“I didn’t think I’d ever be good enough to win a race like this. With COVID, it was really hard but I tried to stay positive. The last weeks I trained really hard at home, they were amazing. When I’m happy I race really well and I’ve been really happy the last few weeks at home, and I think that shows today.”

https://twitter.com/UCI_MTB/status/1431590547861512198

Defending champion Ferrand-Prévot came out of the gates hot, blazing to a lead of around 30 seconds in the opening lap before fading as the race went on. Richards caught and passed the Frenchwoman in lap 3 after Olympic champion Jolanda Neff’s pursuit came unstuck, and the 24-year-old was untouchable from there, riding away to a commanding lead.

Terpstra was next to catch Ferrand-Prévot and took a clear gap over a chase pack that included Neff, Frei, Rebecca McConnell (Australia) and Maja Włoszczowska (Poland). Frei and Neff separated from the pack in the back-half of the final circuit, with Frei winning a frantic sprint for bronze.

Ferrand-Prévot placed sixth.

The U.S. riders had a tough day. Kate Courtney enjoyed a strong start before dropping off the pace and finished 23rd, 6:50 back.

Haley Batten finished 26th, Kelsey Urban 33rd, and VeloNews contributor Hannah Finchamp placed 36th.

Top 6: 

  1. Evie Richards (GB)
  2. Anne Terpstra (Netherlands): +1:03
  3. Sina Frei (Switzerland): +1:08
  4. Jolanda Neff (Switzerland): +1:08
  5. Maja Włoszczowska (Poland): +1:47
  6. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (France): 2:35

Schurter leaves it late to score ninth rainbow jersey

Nino Schurter topped a Swiss one-two after a thrilling final lap to win his ninth world title. The 35-year-old withheld a searing attack from Mathias Flueckiger in the final before edging past his countryman and powering away to score a sprint win.

Victor Koretzky (France) placed third after distancing a chase pack in the final laps.

https://twitter.com/UCI_MTB/status/1431648520361103360

Schurter and Flueckiger were locked together at the front of the race from as early as the second lap. Koretzky, Ondrej Cink (Czech Republic), Vlad Descalu (Romania) and Maximilian Brandl (Germany) chased as a group but the Swiss duo only increased their lead as the race went on.

Flueckiger piled on the pressure throughout the race, often forcing Schurter to take a suboptimal line as he led his veteran teammate through the circuit.

Schurter couldn’t be shaken however and withstood a huge surge from Flueckiger in the final lap.

Flueckiger cranked the pace in the rocky descent of the Val di Sole circuit in a final bid to shake his 35-year-old rival, but Schurter was able to match him before squeezing inside his countryman in a slaloming bend to lead the race heading into the final straight.

With the finish line in sight, Schurter unleashed a powerful long sprint that Flueckiger couldn’t match, so adding yet another marquee result in his huge palmarès.

https://twitter.com/UCI_MTB/status/1431637434182340620

Christopher Blevins led home Team USA in 18th place. Luke Vrouwenvelder placed 55th.

Olympic champion Tom Pidcock (Great Britain) and Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) did not race.

Top-6:

  1. Nino Schurter (Switzerland)
  2. Mathias Flueckiger (Switzerland): +0:02
  3. Victor Koretzky (France): +1:08
  4. Vlad Descalu (Romania): +1:36
  5. Maximilian Brandl (Germany): +1:43
  6. Samuel Gaze (New Zealand): 2:30